Comparative Microsatellite Typing of New World Leishmania infantum Reveals Low Heterogeneity among Populations and Its Recent Old World Origin

Kuhls, K; Alam, MZ; Cupolillo, E; Ferreira, GEM; Mauricio, IL; Oddone, R; Feliciangeli, MD; Wirth, T; Miles, MA; Schonian, G; (2011) Comparative Microsatellite Typing of New World Leishmania infantum Reveals Low Heterogeneity among Populations and Its Recent Old World Origin. PLoS neglected tropical diseases, 5 (6). ISSN 1935-2727 DOI:

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Leishmania infantum (syn. L. chagasi) is the causative agent of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in the New World (NW) with endemic regions extending from southern USA to northern Argentina. The two hypotheses about the origin of VL in the NW suggest (1) recent importation of L. infantum from the Old World (OW), or (2) an indigenous origin and a distinct taxonomic rank for the NW parasite. Multilocus microsatellite typing was applied in a survey of 98 L. infantum isolates from different NW foci. The microsatellite profiles obtained were compared to those of 308 L. infantum and 20 L. donovani strains from OW countries previously assigned to well-defined populations. Two main populations were identified for both NW and OW L. infantum. Most of the NW strains belonged to population 1, which corresponded to the OW MON-1 population. However, the NW population was much more homogeneous. A second, more heterogeneous, population comprised most Caribbean strains and corresponded to the OW non-MON-1 population. All Brazilian L. infantum strains belonged to population 1, although they represented 61% of the sample and originated from 9 states. Population analysis including the OW L. infantum populations indicated that the NW strains were more similar to MON-1 and non-MON-1 sub-populations of L. infantum from southwest Europe, than to any other OW sub-population. Moreover, similarity between NW and Southwest European L. infantum was higher than between OW L. infantum from distinct parts of the Mediterranean region, Middle East and Central Asia. No correlation was found between NW L. infantum genotypes and clinical picture or host background. This study represents the first continent-wide analysis of NW L. infantum population structure. It confirmed that the agent of VL in the NW is L. infantum and that the parasite has been recently imported multiple times to the NW from southwest Europe.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: american visceral leishmaniasis, lutzomyia-longipalpis lutz, atypical, cutaneous leishmaniasis, internal transcribed spacer, didelphis-marsupialis, donovani complex, canine leishmaniasis, genus, leishmania, cruzi mangabeira, species complex
Faculty and Department: Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases > Dept of Pathogen Molecular Biology
Research Centre: Leishmaniasis Group
PubMed ID: 21666787
Web of Science ID: 292139600011


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